6 Quick Ways with Saskatoon Berries
by Chris Halpin
The poor man’s blueberry is how I would have referred to saskatoon
berries not too many years ago. I think because of its remarkable
resemblance to said berry, but with a texture and flavour that is not
like blueberry. Saskatoons are actually closely related to the apple –
now knowing this, the texture and flavour make sense to me. This
is a fruit that likes to be cooked and freezes well. In fact, sometimes
frozen fruits or berries are better than fresh, as the freezing process
will help to soften the flesh and makes them juicier.
saskatoon berry power shake
This is a fantastic, nutrient rich, start to the day or post-workout. I use a whey-based protein isolate that is great for building muscle mass. Ladies may want to find a soy-based protein powder as soy is great for feminine metabolism. In a blender put 1/2 c. frozen saskatoon berries, 1/2 a green banana, 1 c. unsweetened almond or soy milk, 1 T. maple syrup and a scoop of protein powder. Blend until smooth and frothy, about 3 minutes. Serves 1.
saskatoon and juniper relish on warmed brie
This relish can be used on just about anything. I’m a sucker for the richness of brie, but I don’t like it if it’s been over-heated and becomes an oily mess. So, what I do is simply have my brie at room temperature and spoon the freshly made relish over top and give it time to warm the cheese. In a saucepan over high heat, put 2 T. butter and 1 leek, thinly sliced, sauté for a minute or so, then add 1 c. saskatoon berries, 1/4 c. cider vinegar, 1/2 c. brown sugar, 1 t. ground dry juniper berry, 1 t. ground black pepper and salt to taste. Bring to a rolling boil and cook for 4 minutes before removing from the heat. Place the brie on a plate and spoon the hot relish over top and let stand for about 5 minutes before cutting into the brie. Serve with crackers or sliced baguette – cucumber rounds are also wonderful, especially in the summer. Serves 2 to 8.
saskatoon berry gazpacho
I have always loved gazpacho – so refreshing and satisfying when done right. Some can be nothing more than a savoury slushy – blahh. In a food processor or blender put 1 c. fresh saskatoons, 2 c. diced watermelon, 2 roma tomatoes, diced, 2 garlic cloves, crushed, 1/4 c. olive oil, hot sauce and salt to taste. Purée until smooth and thick, about 3 minutes. While this is going on, finely chop a handful of arugula and 6 or so chives. Spoon the gazpacho into bowls and garnish the top with the chopped greens.
caramelized onion and saskatoon berry compote with arctic char seared in bacon fat
I will often make a mélange of vegetables with berries or fruit and spices, in lieu of a sauce. In a skillet over medium heat, put 2 T. butter, 1 onion, thinly sliced and sauté until the onion becomes caramelized, about 10 minutes. Then add 1 c. frozen saskatoon berries, 1 t. smoked paprika, 1/2 t. chile flakes and salt to taste and continue to sauté until the fish is ready. Salt the skin of 4 arctic char fillets. Place another skillet over high heat and allow it to get very hot before adding the bacon fat. Sear the fish, skin side down, and allow the skin to get very crispy before turning it over, about 4 minutes. Salt and pepper the flesh, then flip it and sear the flesh side for about 2 minutes before removing from the pan. Arrange the fish on plates and spoon some of the compote over each of the fillets. Serves 4.
saskatoon and white chocolate cream scones
To my way of thinking, a cream scone is more like a dessert than a biscuit. For those of you who’ve had coffee shop scones and are less than impressed, try these; they will make you a believer! Preheat your oven to 350ºF. In a small bowl, lightly beat 1 egg, whisk in 1 c. whipping cream, set aside. In a larger bowl put 2 c. flour, 1 t. baking powder, 3/4 c. sugar and mix well. Then add 1/2 c. fresh saskatoons and 3/4 c. chopped white chocolate and give it a bit of a mix. Gently work in 1/2 c. grated cold butter and stir in the cream mixture, just enough to have it come together. With your hands form 12 patties of dough, about 1-inch thick and 3 inches around, arrange them onto a baking sheet. Bake in the oven until they are fluffy and golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Makes 1 dozen.
saskatoon berry coulis with vanilla ice cream in a caramel lace cup
So simple and so elegant. Who wants to spend time fussing in the kitchen instead of enjoying the summer? In a saucepan over medium heat, put 1 c. saskatoons, 1 c. sugar, 1/2 c. water and 1 t. grated fresh ginger. Bring this to a rolling boil, stirring from time to time, for about 5 minutes or until the coulis start to thicken. Remove from the heat, allow to cool, then put in the fridge. This will last for weeks. To make the cups, in a saucepan over medium heat melt 1/2 c. butter, then stir in 1/2 c. brown sugar and 2 T. corn syrup and stir until the sugar dissolves and becomes a smooth caramel. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 c. flour. Allow the dough to cool to room temperature before baking. When you’re ready to bake the cups, preheat your oven to 350ºF. On 2 lined baking sheets and using 1 T. of dough, make only 4 cookies to a tray, 2 rows of 2. These cookies will spread out to a surprising size and be remarkably thin, so don’t place them too close to each other. Bake in the oven until dark-golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Remove them from the oven and allow to cool for about a minute or until the cookies have started to set and are a leathery consistency. Form them in a rice bowl or a muffin tin, to make a bowl shape. Allow them to set completely, before removing. To assemble, arrange a cup on a dessert plate, scoop some ice cream in and spoon some coulis over top. Serves 8.
recipe photos by Chris Halpin
Read Quick Ways in the digital issue of City Palate.